‘SNP finally caves!’ Sturgeon ‘long overdue U-turn’ on grades sparks fury: ‘Head in sand’

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On Thursday, Scotland’s Education Secretary, Shirley-Anne Somerville, announced the two education authorities would be reformed following criticism of how exams are graded.

Commenting on a breaking news article written by the BBC, Jamie Greene, Shadow Justice Secretary for the Scottish Tories said the reform was “long overdue”.

“This is only ‘breaking news’ because the SNP have finally caved,” he wrote.

“It’s clear to most folk that this u-turn is long overdue.

“The @ScotTories brought this to a vote in the last term of parliament and it was brushed under the carpet by ministers with their heads in the sand.”

The SQA, which helps deliver exams for older pupils in Scotland, has received the most backlash with some opposition politicians calling for it to be scrapped entirely.

Ms Sommerville said the reform to education authorities would form part of “wide-ranging plans for education recovery” in the next 100 days and beyond.

The Education Secretary added that the plans to reform showed “our determination to deliver improvements with pace and urgency.”

She said: “I am open to considering what further reform is necessary, with the clear purpose of doing all we can to improve outcomes for children.

“This includes reducing variability in the outcomes children and young people achieve across the country.”

Ms Sommerville added that she would take “full responsibility” for the new system.

One of the problems that students have mentioned is the appeal process for exams which can see their final results move down as well as up.

The education sector has been badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic as formal exams had to be cancelled for a second year in a row.

Last year, ministers were forced to upgrade tens of thousands of exam results after pupils bemoaned how the grades had been awarded.

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Before Ms Sommerville’s announcement, Nicola Sturgeon said she had full confidence in the SQA although she admitted the replacement system in place for the pandemic was “not perfect”.

Oliver Mundell, an education spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said: “The SNP can’t have it both ways.

“Nicola Sturgeon said she had full confidence in the SQA, yet a couple of hours later her education secretary announces that she wants to reform the SQA after its continued failures.

“That will hardly inspire confidence among pupils, parents and teachers who the SNP have continually let down.”

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